Chicken Fried Chicken with White Country Gravy

At the end of June, the bf and I embarked on a little cross-country vacation. I flew from LA to my hometown of NYC with my pup while the bf drove from LA to meet us in NYC. We spent about a week in NY and then after a one day trip to Boston, headed to his hometown of St. Louis. While I was home in NYC I ate at a lot of the same places I used to, hot dogs and cheese fries at Nathan’s in Coney Island, a meal at my favorite restaurant Southern Hospitality, bagels, pizza, the usual. Before we left for the trip I did some research into food chains that weren’t in NYC or LA but may be on our route. I found a couple I wanted to try and made bf promise that we’d go.

The two main places I wanted to go were Sonic and Cracker Barrel. We get Sonic commercials here in LA even though the closest one is like 25 miles away or something crazy. The food itself wasn’t anything to write home about but their shakes are insanely good. I got a chocolate covered strawberry the first time and strawberry cheesecake the second. I love strawberry. While Sonic was nothing special, Cracker Barrel on the other hand was AMAZING!! I love country style cooking so I was insanely excited when we finally went. I got the chicken fried chicken (I’m not a huge fan of chicken fried steak mainly because I like my steaks thick) and it came with three sides so I got corn, green beans and mashed potatoes. When the waitress asked what kind of gravy I wanted on my potatoes I chose white gravy. Mainly because I never really had it before but I had heard wonderful things. And it was absolutely wonderful.

Ever since I’ve been craving a re-creation of that meal. Once I got home and settled I decided I would just make it myself. I didn’t find any satisfactory recipes on my go to, the Food Network website so I just Googled chicken fried chicken and white gravy. Chicken fried chicken is incredibly easy; its basically a chicken cutlet breaded with flour instead of breadcrumbs. You just have to pound the chicken breast really thin. I think next time I make it, I may add a little Panko or breadcrumbs just to give the coating a little crunch. But it was still great. The gravy on the other hand was a bit of a challenge. Thank god I told bf to get the gallon of milk. When I tried to follow one recipe I found and make it in the same pan I made the chicken in, it didn’t work. I don’t know if there was too much grease or not enough but it just tasted like flour and wasn’t that pure white I was looking for. So I went back to the internet and found another recipe that makes it on the stove top. It makes a lot so be prepared to have some leftover for another few meals. You could probably freeze it; I have it refrigerated right now. When you reheat it, just add milk to thin it out again. You can find the gravy recipe here.

Now, since this is a typical southern country meal, I knew it needed some typical country sides. I served my chicken with mashed potatoes, corn and macaroni and cheese. You can find the recipe for the mashed potatoes and mac and cheese here on my blog. The corn was just frozen corn, nothing special to prepare there. I only made two chicken breasts but you can make however many you need. That being said, here are the recipes!

Chicken Fried Chicken
boneless skinless chicken breasts
flour to dredge (about 1/2 cup)
salt, garlic powder and poultry seasoning to season flour
1 egg
oil for frying

Pound breasts to flatten. You want them about 1/4 inch thick. Season flour with spices. Crack egg in a separate container; beat with a fork.

Dredge chicken in egg, then flour mixture then egg again. Heat oil in pan on medium heat. Don’t make it too high or your oil will get too hot and your breading will burn.

Add chicken to heated oil. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 8 minutes total.

Remove and place on paper towel to drain excess oil

White Country Gravy
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.

Add flour, Stir until smooth and bubble. Add salt and pepper

Add milk and bring to medium heat, whisking constantly. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Let boil for one minute.

chicken fried chicken

Chicken covered in white gravy!

chicken meal with gravy

Full meal: chicken, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and corn!

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Cheesy Chicken Pasta Bake

Let me admit something…no matter how many recipes I may have saved, nothing beats food I already know. Sometimes all it takes is just re-imagining to make something new again. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Italian (or Italian inspired) food. There’s only so many times in a row you can have chicken parmigana but you can still use chicken, cheese, pasta and sauce!!

This is something I came up with one night because I was bored eating chicken and pasta side by side. So, I figured why not combine it? It’s just as quick as a lasagna but definitely less labor intensive. You can make the pasta while you’re making the chicken but you want to give the chicken a little bit of a head start. If you do make the pasta first, toss it with a little olive oil so it doesn’t turn into a giant clump. I used sauce that I had frozen but you can use jar sauce. No need to make it fresh until you want to. I also used pre-shredded cheese. It melts pretty nicely.

In terms of pasta, you can use any kind you’d like. I used fusilli but that’s because its one of my favorites. I like the way the sauce sticks to it. But penne or rigatoni would also work well. When I season my chicken, I always use salt, garlic powder, season salt, and poultry seasoning. You can use whatever you like but that’s just me. And the sauce doesn’t have to be hot since you’re going to make it. Just reserve enough to spread over the top of the bake to serve. This is also a great meal to have as a make ahead. You can put it all together, throw it in the fridge and then bake it when you need it! That being said, here’s your recipe!

Cheesy Chicken Pasta Bake
1 lb. pasta
1 lb. boneless chicken breast
2 cups tomato sauce
1 8oz. package shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350. In a small container season chicken. Add a dash of Italian seasoning. Pour 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to marinate.

Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place chicken on sheet and bake approximately 7 minutes per side.

In a medium pot, cook pasta to al dente.

When chicken is cooked leave out to cool. Chop into small to medium sized cubes. Drain pasta and return to pot. Spray or grease bottom and sides of 9×13 inch baking dish.

In pot mix pasta, chicken, half the cheese and 1 cup sauce. Transfer mixture into baking dish. Cover with 1/2 cup sauce and rest of cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 additional minutes to brown the top.

Serve topped with warm sauce.

cheesy chicken bake

Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

Because I work nights, I’m always on a quest to make things that I can quickly reheat when I get home and I’m hungry. I also like to have things at home that Jon can reheat for himself. I love lasagna but I’m not a huge fan of traditional ground beef so I use chicken. Adding the spinach is also a great way to add veggies.

Lasagna is also a great meal to make when you’re having guests over. It is a definite comfort food. I love comfort foods, especially in winter. Once I decided I was going to make a lasagna this week I invited over a friend and her boyfriend to join us. At the store I grabbed a quick loaf of bread to serve and a little pre-packaged salad. It was just greens but I added some black olives, tomatoes and dressing.

Making lasagna can be a little time consuming, so if you’re having guests plan accordingly. It was also be a bit messy but totally worth it. My friends brought over a lovely bottle of red wine but you can serve it with any wine of your liking! Enjoy!

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12 lasagna noodles
4 chicken breasts
1 15oz. container ricotta (I used whole milk)
Shredded mozzarella cheese (I shredded my own but you could buy pre-shredded)
1 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained
tomato sauce of your choice
dried basil and oregano

In a large pot bring well salted water to boil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare chicken, pierce skin lightly with a fork on both sides of each breast. Season well with salt, poultry seasoning, basil and oregano. Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Line small baking sheet with tin foil and bake chicken for about 5-6 minutes per side. Let cool before cutting into cubes.

Once water has boiled, add lasagna noodles. Cook for about 8-10 minutes. Drain and lay noodles flat on paper towels, layering noodles and paper towels to dry them.

Mix ricotta cheese, basil, oregano and spinach in a medium bowl. Grate mozzarella cheese. I used about a cup per layer but if depends on how cheesy you like your lasagna. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray bottom of a 9×13″ baking pan with cooking spray. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce before laying down the noodles.

To construct: layer 3 noodles on bottom of pan. Drop 2-3 spoonfuls of ricotta mixture on each noodle. Sprinkle with chicken and add a layer of tomato sauce (thickness is up to you). Sprinkle with mozzarella. Repeat for 2 more layers. On top of the last layer, add tomato sauce and mozzarella only. Bake covered for 50 minutes.

Uncover and add more mozzarella. Continue to bake until cheese is bubbling and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Edges of noodles should be a little crisp and sauce should bubble. Cool before serving. Serve with garlic bread (recipe below)

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Garlic Bread

1/2 loaf of crusty bread (I used french bread)
4 tbsp. salted butter at room temperature
1 tbsp. crushed garlic (I used the jarred kind)

Cut bread in half. If necessary preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mash together garlic and butter with fork. Spread over bread.

Bake until bread has absorbed butter and edges are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Spread remaining butter on bread before serving.

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Bacon Cheddar Potato Fritters

So here we go with the first recipe. This one is actually an original recipe I came up with. Inspired by the Jewish latke, I decided to make the recipe more adaptable for everyday use. I love potatoes and I’m always looking for new ways to prepare them. I mean you can only eat mashed potatoes so many times.

These are super easy to make; they’re quick, have minimal ingredients and can be thrown together in a pinch. I used pre-packaged shredded potatoes but if you wanted you could shred your own. Just make sure you pat them dry first or else you may have to use more flour.

For the bacon, I just used regular store brand. You can use whatever kind you like. Same with the cheese. I like my stuff cheesy so I used a lot of cheese. I’ve tried it shredded and cubed and I really liked it cubed. To achieve small enough cubes, I chopped up those little cracker cut slices of cheese I had in my cheese drawer.

I just realized we ate them so quickly that I forgot to snap a picture! They were lovely!

Here’s the recipe!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Yield: 8-10 fritters

Shredded Potatoes (I used about 2 1/2 cups)
4 slices cooked bacon
pinch sea salt
Cheddar cheese (I used extra sharp) Cubed or Shredded
1 large egg
1 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsps vegetable oil plus bacon grease for frying

Cook 4 slices of bacon in a large skillet on medium high heat, turning frequently to desired crispness. Place on paper towel covered plate to drain. Remove pot from heat, do not drain grease.

While bacon is cooling, mix shredded potatoes, salt and egg. Add cheese, crumbled bacon and flour. If mixture seems too wet add more flour.

Return skillet to medium heat and add vegetable oil. Once oil is hot, Spoon heaping tablespoonfuls of mixture into hot oil. Flip when browned, 2-3 minutes per side.

Once golden brown and crispy on the edges, transfer to paper towel to drain.

Serve with sour cream, ketchup or plain!